Weaving the New Testament into the Semantic Web

Presented November 21, 2006 at the Annual Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature

The World Wide Web, as a network of documents, has become a staple of everyday life, including Biblical scholarship. Recent activity by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) envisions moving beyond a web of HTML documents to a web of concepts and meaningful data called the Semantic Web. Foundational concepts include the use of Uniform Resource Identifiers (URIs) to describe resources, the Resource Description Framework (RDF) for describing properties of resources, and the Web Ontology Language (OWL), now a W3C recommended standard for representing ontological relationships in a web-friendly way. This paper will briefly overview what the Semantic Web is, and why it is relevant to Biblical scholars. It will also describe several Semantic Web projects underway at SemanticBible.org. For example, the NT Names project is producing a freely-sharable semantic catalog of people, locations, and other named objects in the New Testament, as well as various kinship, interpersonal, and locational relationships between them. Other projects address the creation of semantically-organized lexical resources, and semantic relationships within and between the Gospels. The paper will close with additional suggestions for how Semantic Web technologies can enable better integration, access, and search for Biblical data.

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